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MVT's 'Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit' is a hit


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POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Guy Merola as a “;Lion King”; elephant. Tricia Marciel as Sarah Brightman. The entire cast plus two anonymous stagehands re-creating the revolving set of “;Les Miserables.”;

Those are three of the visual highlights in Manoa Valley Theatre's season-opening production of “;Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit,”; the ninth edition of Gerard Alessandrini's off-Broadway musical revue that satirizes the current crop of shows and stars on Broadway. The musical numbers in MVT's surefire hit aren't all the same as those in the show's soundtrack album, but the intent — and the comic impact — is the same.

If you like Broadway musicals, you will almost certainly love “;FB: SVU.”;

The show opens with the death-by-gunfire of a former child actor who hasn't worked since she starred in “;Annie”; and who still dresses as the character. Detective Jerry Orbach (Merola) and Sergeant BD Howe (Jack Galliano) of Broadway's Special Victims Unit attempt to console a horrified bystander (Marciel) who tells them she remembers almost nothing of the show she just saw. It was dark and loud, had nothing memorable in the way of plot or choreography, and she didn't see any musicians.

               

     

 

'FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT'

        » Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
       

» When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 20

       

» Cost: $35 general admission; $30 for military and seniors; $20 for anyone 25 or younger

       

>> Info: 988-6131 or www.manoavalleytheatre.com

       

Broadway shows aren't what they used to be!

From that point on, the ensemble cast — Merola, Marciel, Galliano, Kelly Fitzgerald and singer/pianist/musical director Kenji Higashihama — zips through musical numbers parodying the big shows, big stars and reigning trends in musical theater. For instance, shows that consist of old Top 40 hits (”;Mamma Mia!”;). Shows consisting of Top 40 hits and narration but little else (”;Jersey Boys”;). The cookie-cutter success of big-budget stage versions of Disney cartoon movies (”;Lion King,”; “;Little Mermaid”;).

There are also celebrity impressions of Bebe Neuwirth (Marciel), Liza Minnelli (Fitzgerald) and “;South Pacific”; stars Kelli O'Hara (Marciel) and Paulo Szot (Merola).

Almost 40 percent of the second act is “;Les Miz”; as Merola (Valjean), Marciel (Eponine), Galliano (Javert), Fitzgerald (Madame Thenardier), Higashihama and the stagehands deconstruct the iconic mega-hit. Merola solos in a number satirizing the vocal range required to play Valjean (”;Bring It Down”;). Marciel shows her talent as a comedian as the ever-popular tear-jerker “;On My Own”; becomes an ode to the art of text-messaging (”;On My Phone”;). The cast and crew unite for a stirring finale anticipating the show's continued success — “;Ten Years More.”;

It helps to be familiar with Alessandrini's targets, although the sight gags — Dusty Behner's “;Lion King”; costumes for Merola and Marciel, props designer Sara Ward's “;Avenue Q”; puppets and choreographer Katherine Jones' spot-on faux-Fosse choreography in a “;Chicago”; spoof — require no knowledge of the original works.

A comment by Merola/Szot in the “;South Pacific”; section, in which he uses the same accent whether playing French, Spanish or Italian characters, is also universal enough for anyone to appreciate.

On the other hand, a reference to “;Pacific Overtures”; is one of many clever bits that will be appreciated only by folks familiar with the original shows.